Have you ever wondered where the most beautiful photos of the city of Florence at sunset are taken from? Those photos you see on postcards or on the covers of the most famous travel magazines. In this article I will talk about Piazzale Michelangelo, the most famous vantage point from which you can admire the whole city of Florence. On the other hand, if they gave it the name of the famous Italian Renaissance artist, there will be a reason.
How to get to Piazzale Michelangelo
As soon as I arrive at the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence I rush directly to Piazzale Michelangelo with the hope of arriving before sunset.
The square is easily accessible from the city center both by public transport and by taxi. You can walk along the tree-lined avenue called Michelangelo, or walk up the monumental stairs called Rampe del Poggi from Piazza Poggi in the San Niccolò district.
The name of the square was chosen by the architect Giuseppe Poggi who designed the project in 1869 to celebrate Michelangelo and his works. He also designed the Loggia which dominates the entire terrace and which was supposed to house a museum with the works of the great Tuscan artist. Currently in the Loggia there is a restaurant that offers typical Florentine cuisine.
Photographing Florence at sunset
As soon as I arrive I find myself in front of a large parking lot full of taxis, buses, stalls displaying the classic souvenirs and obviously lots of tourists of all nationalities who have had the same idea as me. I approach the walls that surround the square: how wonderful! Just look out and the view is beautiful. To my right, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Arno with its famous bridges, among which Ponte Vecchio stands out with its unique architecture. I move towards the center of the square to admire Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo of Florence, Brunelleschi’s great Dome and Giotto’s Bell Tower which seem very close. The late afternoon sun brings out the colors of the white, red and green marbles that cover these monuments.
Sunset Photography Tip
To get photos of sunrises and sunsets in very warm colors, go to the camera shooting menu and choose Cloudy as white balance. Press the right arrow button to go to the sub-menu and move the point to the center of the grid by three points to the right (on A3) and then press OK. When you have finished photographing, don’t forget to go back to the previous settings, otherwise in your subsequent photos the world will seem a little warmer than it actually is.
Basilica of San Miniato al Monte
I decide to visit the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte which is right above Piazzale Michelangelo. From the courtyard in front of the entrance of the Basilica you can see the Florentine countryside and part of the historic center of Florence. I take some pictures before the red color in the sky fades and is replaced by evening lights.
I read that the construction of the Basilica began in 1018 and was founded by the Benedictine monks who still live there today. Its facade is a beautiful example of Florentine Romanesque architecture. The white marble and the green serpentine marble of Prato, arranged in a geometric shape, are reminiscent of the other churches in Florence. Inside the Basilica there is a marble zodiac dating back to 1207 where every year, during the summer solstice, a ray of sunshine illuminates the sign of Cancer.
Typical dishes of Florentine cuisine
Return to the historic center and decide to have dinner. In Florence the streets are full of taverns, trattorias, wine bars and typical restaurants. Among the many proposals of the Tuscan tradition I choose a trio of first courses: pappardelle with wild boar ragout, ravioli and pici cacio e pepe. All accompanied by a good glass of Chianti classico and to end in sweetness the delicious cantucci with Vin Santo.
I recommend a walk after dinner among the less crowded streets of Florence to be able to admire more calmly the illuminated monuments in the Florentine night. Everything has a different charm and deserves to be savored.